WHEN TWO MIRRORS ARE HELD FACING EACH OTHER a regression of reflections results. A corridor of mirrors dwindling away into minuscule images beyond the range of vision is created. But each time the reflections repeat themselves the quality of the reflection degrades ever so slightly. At first this change is hardly noticeable, but as we look deeper into the never-ending well of repeating images the degradation becomes obvious and long before the vanishing point it becomes a blurred, hazy, jumble of indistinct fuzziness. So it is when we look along the tunnel of time, past and future.
There the degradation exists in our minds, our consciousness. It is not the image which is lacking in clarity but the mirror of our perception…the clouded glass through which all our seeing is done – the past is what it was but the relics and stories of what remains of it in our time do not often allow us a clear perception. And our own immersion in our present affects our viewpoint so that we interpret from the standpoint of our era, its ideologies, and all its myriad biases and foibles.
Thanks to ideological geopolitics and the overwhelming propaganda that accompanies it, our era is not graced with serenity. These are event driven times, full of motion, movement, turmoil, political prejudice, unjustified support for war, unjustified slaughter, an era of vast lies to justify great oppression, of false narratives to colonize minds – an antithesis to contemplation and careful consideration. For us, for our time, the future rarely extends its horizon beyond the next day, week, or month. And so we are forced to hang on every political manoeuvre, every military action, every false claim that must be refuted, every escalation of oppression that must be countered, and, in these troubled times, diligently follow the ever-shifting state of attempts to manipulate world opinion and politics.
We watch incessantly, intently, so focused on each advancing tick of the event-clock that past and future are seemingly banished to the cloudy, unfocused edges of peripheral vision. The principle of cause and effect in human affairs recedes into irrelevancy, and like an amnesiac our societies dwell in a disconnected, decoupled, never-ending present. One where history begins when our government’s geopolitics says it begins, and where current events move at such a speed that the past vanishes and frightening and dangerous futures approach with breakneck speed.
It is not that there is a degradation of image in our view of past events, but there is hardly any image left to consider, and our focus on the immediacy of the present is such that our memory and relatability to the past and its lessons fades to an indiscernible blur. If the past is referred to it is often a revisionist past or a fragment mentioned only to bolster the acceptance of an unpleasant or brutalist present day agenda or policy. In other words the past is of interest primarily inasmuch as it can be shown to mirror or support present day desires and objectives – it becomes little more than an extension of a State’s or bloc’s collective modern ego, a token to bolster and justify power and hegemony.
And so we are in danger of being left with no solid point of reference with which to judge events and insufficient context with which to understand them. With vast amounts of knowledge at our fingertips, with technology that borders on magic at our daily command, with mountains of information at our disposal, we seem nevertheless destined to repeatedly encounter disaster and horror around the world and to meet it by dealing out the same. Over time, as the never-ending present we dwell in grows increasingly nightmarish, increasingly brutal, we will shake our heads in confusion and wonder how all this could come to be – and we will never truly know since we cut ourselves adrift from the sources which could help us to understand and seek solutions for our problems. Past and future – cause and effect – continuity and coherence. These are replaced with a blind, foolish politics of justification, a defence of the indefensible, the complete disruption of nations, the callous destruction of innocents, and a rising spiral of escalation, derangement, and death.
Only the noise and clamour of the present remains – the cold horror of sudden death by State terror, the hollow rhetoric and tiresome lies of leaders, the moment by moment media reports, the shameless and endlessly broadcast propaganda and lies, the faulty and destructive strategies of war, the crushing blows of armies, the transformation of economics, trade, diplomacy, business, aid, information, and culture into strategic weapons. The energy of events overrides all historical perspectives except those that pertain to policy, tactics, and propaganda, and a corporatized and generally cowardly media becomes an active component in this process. Our society’s signal to noise ratio has become so feeble that little that is truly meaningful or coherent can be discerned. Reflection and thoughtfulness are drowned in a sea of white noise.
Yet between the din of conflict and the clatter of a media that vacillates between producing mind-numbing entertainment and engaging in vacuous or misleading and selective reporting of current events and crises, there are present among every religion, every culture, every language, those who struggle to raise their level of awareness and understanding and that of their society. They do not deal with weapons of terror or have the power of corrupt empires at their disposal – their efforts occur in the interspaces between events and in their solidarity and support of those who suffer the consequences of unjust policies. They are often drowned out by the incessant shouting of the powerful and the connected. They do not cover over, conceal, or shrug off what has gone before, they do not defend slaughter and genocide, oppression or colonialism, apartheid or racism – they strive to overcome them. They are not swayed by the biases, fashions, trends and propaganda of their time. They seek to illuminate and halt the horrors of the present with the light of the past and with an understanding that cuts deeply through the vertical axis of this world, and through this show the possibilities of hope for the future. They do not cause suffering – they relieve it, they strive actively to alleviate the pain and distress of the oppressed. They act as witnesses for their era and their societies (“We bring forth from every people a witness” (Qur’an. 4:41)). Their determination, their simple and steadfast traces are of greater worth than all the posturing, loud clamouring and brutality of this era’s demagogues….
“….what they used to forge shall utterly depart from them….We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves…. Surely God enjoins the doing of true justice and the doing of beautiful good (to others)…and He admonishes you (with a weighty warning) that you may be deeply mindful.” (Qur’an 16: 87-90)
Another blog: islam from inside